Apple Patents Waterproofing Method 'For Shielding Electronic Components from Moisture'

by

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today published a patent application created by Apple, detailing a method for the extensive waterproofing of various components within a device, possibly an iPhone, thus creating a completely waterproof smartphone without the need of a special case (via Patently Apple).

Originally filed in September of 2013, the patent application describes a "hydrophobic coating" to be layered onto integral parts within a device, like its printed circuit board. Apple describes achieving this using a "plasma-assisted chemical vapor deposition (PACVD) process" that would adhere the coating substance onto the surface of the printed circuit board in such a way as to not take up much additional room in the already small casing of a smartphone.

waterproof patent

In the bigger picture, immersing electronic devices in water generally has predictably negative results. Through testing it has been determined that high voltage power components are more likely to short or malfunction after only brief exposure to liquids or moisture. More specifically, exposed metal areas having high voltage differentials in close proximity can easily experience short circuit events when corrosion or water immersion bridges the gap between such areas.

By providing an insulating layer or barrier around these highly susceptible parts, water resistance can be substantially increased without obscuring functional openings leading into a device housing of a particular electronic device. A thin hydrophobic (i.e., water resistant) conformal coating having a thickness between at least one and ten microns can be applied to a substrate using a plasma-assisted chemical vapor deposition (PACVD) process. The PACVD process charges the surface of the substrate so that the coating can be bonded to the charged surface.

Though not completely waterproof as Apple's new patent intends a device to be, Tim Cook recently stated that the company's upcoming Apple Watch will in fact be a bit more water resistant than previously thought. He stated that he wears his personal Apple Watch everywhere, "even in the shower." If so, the Watch will be the company's first device with such a water resistant claim.

While the patent application doesn't specifically state what device the waterproof process could be attributed to, it's easy to see the company reasoning the method for use on iPhone and iPad. Although, like with all other patents, the practicality of a completely waterproof iPhone launching anytime soon is highly unlikely, but it's always an interesting glimpse behind the scenes regarding what the company may be considering for its future.

Top Rated Comments

YahonMaizosz Avatar
77 months ago
Great.. I guess the Samsung Galaxy S7 is going to be waterproof again.. :rolleyes:
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
newagemac Avatar
77 months ago

Did Liquipel not patent this? They've been showing off the same technology at CES for a few years now...


I was wondering the same thing - how can this really deserve a patent when there are already similar solutions.

Further - liquipel seems more comprehensive than isolated to specific areas


Do people still not understand how patents work? I'm sure Liquipel patented their method for waterproofing. And here we see Apple patenting their own method. Ideas (like waterproofing a device) can't be patented. Only methods to do so can be patented.

Ideally there will be hundreds of different patented methods to accomplish an idea (from many different companies/entrepreneurs/innovators) and the best one wins in the marketplace. Then when the patents expire, humanity gets to use them all.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
keysofanxiety Avatar
77 months ago

My Xoeria Z3 is waterproof. Why is Apple lagging here?

In my experience in the tech world, saying anything is waterproof suddenly gives consumers the attitude that the phone can be bashed about, freely used in the shower/bath, and generally they get angrier when it fails.

To advertise a product as 'waterproof' suddenly opens up a whole new world of problems - if the phone fails because the internal components are liquid damaged, would that be covered under warranty? Would there be grounds to go through consumer rights, because the phone was advertised as waterproofed and yet was damaged by water? Would liquid damage still not be covered under warranty, in which case why advertise it as being waterproof?

If liquid damage is covered under warranty on a phone advertised as being waterproof, then that means the manufacturer is accepting a much larger liability -- one that could simply be avoided by waterproofing the phone, but not advertising or confirming that this is the fact.

With the greatest of respect, Sony using and heavily advertising waterproofing on their Xperia Z3 as one of many features to try and stand out in a profit-struggling market (Android phones) is very different to the consistently top-selling iPhone suddenly becoming waterproofed. If Apple reject one warranty claim, then everybody will hear about it, the news will go ballistic, and they'll probably have a lawsuit on their hands. You must appreciate the difference.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
NT1440 Avatar
77 months ago

Did Liquipel not patent this? They've been showing off the same technology at CES for a few years now...


If you read the patent, it describes a method for waterproofing, not a product for waterproofing.

Basically they give a negative or positive charge to a component, and then apply the plasma process with the opposite charge to create an extremely thin layer of protection.

This isn't a "we patented waterproofing" patent, which would not be valid anywhere. This is a patent for Apple's specific method of implementing waterproofing.

----------

Do people still not understand how patents work? I'm sure Liquipel patented their method for waterproofing. And here we see Apple patenting their own method. Ideas (like waterproofing a device) can't be patented. Only methods to do so can be patented.

Ideally there will be hundreds of different patented methods to accomplish an idea (from many different companies/entrepreneurs/innovators) and the best one wins in the marketplace. Then when the patents expire, humanity gets to use them all.


This guy gets it!

I don't understand why people don't get what a patent is.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LordQ Avatar
77 months ago

Source? I never knew this.


Sounds like he's trolling.

Reminds me when people thought that iOS 7 (or was it 8?) made the phone unshatterable.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Loucifer Avatar
77 months ago
Just alerting you to the typo, hydroponic below is of course a typo for hydrophobic.

Keep up the good work x

Originally filed in September of 2013, the patent application describes a "hydroponic coating" to be layered onto integral parts within a device, like its printed circuit board. Apple describes achieving this using a "plasma-assisted
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

magsafecasedangle

Apple Elaborates on Potential for iPhone 12 and MagSafe Accessories to Interfere With Implantable Medical Devices

Saturday January 23, 2021 2:42 pm PST by
Since the launch of iPhone 12 models in October, Apple has acknowledged that the devices may cause electromagnetic interference with medical devices like pacemakers and defibrillators, but the company has now shared additional information. Apple added the following paragraph to a related support document today:Medical devices such as implanted pacemakers and defibrillators might contain...
Top Stories 44 Feature

Top Stories: 'Thinner and Lighter' MacBook Air, Smaller iPhone 13 Notch, iOS 14.4 Incoming

Saturday January 23, 2021 6:00 am PST by
We continued to hear a lot more about Apple's plans for its Mac lineup this week, including word of a high-end redesigned MacBook Air and the return of an SD card slot as part of the upcoming MacBook Pro redesign. It also sounds like Apple has been working on Face ID for Mac, but it won't be appearing in a redesigned iMac this year as originally planned. This week also saw rumors about the...
bloodoxygenapplewatch

Apple Watch Series 7 Rumored to Feature Blood Glucose Monitoring

Monday January 25, 2021 5:05 am PST by
The Apple Watch Series 7 will reportedly feature blood glucose monitoring via an optical sensor, according to ETNews. The report, which mainly focuses on the blood glucose capabilities of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, explains that Apple is intending to bring blood glucose monitoring to the upcoming Apple Watch Series 7 using a non-invasive optical sensor. Measuring blood glucose levels,...
maxresdefault

Microsoft Touts Surface Pro 7 as 'The Better Choice' Over MacBook Pro in New Ad

Saturday January 23, 2021 11:02 am PST by
Microsoft yesterday shared a new ad on YouTube titled "Microsoft Surface Pro 7: The Better Choice," in which the company compares its tablet computer to Apple's 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro, as spotted by MSPoweruser. The ad highlights the Surface Pro 7's touchscreen and included stylus as opposed to only a "little bar" (the Touch Bar) on the MacBook Pro. Other advantages of the Surface Pro 7...
airpods galaxy buds comparison

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs. Apple AirPods Pro

Friday January 22, 2021 2:34 pm PST by
Samsung in January unveiled new flagship Galaxy S21 smartphones and alongside the new phones, introduced the $200 Galaxy Buds Pro, which are priced at $199 and offer Active Noise Cancellation. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. These new Galaxy Buds Pro are clearly designed to compete with Apple's AirPods Pro, so we thought we'd compare the two sets of earbuds in our...
2021 mbp sd slot feature2

Bloomberg: Next MacBook Pro to Feature SD Card Reader

Friday January 22, 2021 7:50 am PST by
Last week, reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo outlined his expectations for new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models later this year, including the return of the MagSafe charging connector, the removal of the Touch Bar, a new flat-edged design, and the return of more ports built into the notebooks for expanded connectivity. A concept of a modern MacBook Pro with an SD card reader Kuo did not...
time to walk apple watch

Apple Fitness+ Feature 'Time to Walk' Launching Soon With Audio Stories From Special Guests

Saturday January 23, 2021 7:13 pm PST by
Earlier this week, Apple seeded the watchOS 7.3 Release Candidate, which is typically the final beta version of a software update. The release notes for the update list a new "Time to Walk" feature for Apple Fitness+ subscribers, described as "an audio experience in the Workout app where guests share inspiring stories as you walk." Apple Fitness+ subscribers will be able to open the Workout...
Flat MacBook Air Feature

Bloomberg: Apple Working on 'Thinner and Lighter' High-End MacBook Air With MagSafe, Could Launch in Second Half of 2021

Friday January 22, 2021 3:34 am PST by
Apple is working on a "thinner and lighter" version of the MacBook Air that the company plans to release during the second half of this year at the earliest or in 2022, according to a new report by well-connected Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman. It will include Apple's MagSafe charging technology and a next-generation version of the company's in-house Mac processors. Apple has discussed...
q4 2020 mac growth feature

Mac Sales Skyrocketing After M1 Launch

Tuesday January 19, 2021 3:00 am PST by
Apple's worldwide Mac shipments grew massively in the fourth quarter of 2020 after the launch of three new Macs with the M1 chip, according to new PC shipping estimates shared by Gartner. Apple shipped an estimated 6.9 million Macs, up from the 5.25 million it shipped at the same time in 2019, marking significant growth of 31.3 percent. In spite of the growth of Mac sales, Apple remained...
apple time to walk apple watch airpods 01252021 inline

Apple's New 'Time to Walk' Feature Launches Today for Fitness+ Subscribers

Monday January 25, 2021 6:30 am PST by
Apple today officially introduced Time to Walk, a new feature for Apple Fitness+ subscribers with audio stories from influential people that Apple Watch users can listen to with AirPods or other wireless headphones while walking. Time to Walk episodes will be automatically downloaded to the Apple Watch with a Fitness+ subscription, and users can start an episode directly from the Workout...